From Times Higher Education, 12 January 2023
Tom Williams, How Birkbeck was squeezed by years of neglect for adult education, London’s revered ‘night university’ enters bicentenary year mired in financial crisis.
“Professor Michie, president of Kellogg College, Oxford, has charted how for much of the 21st century the UK’s policy environment has undermined the efforts of specialist providers such as Birkbeck and the UK’s largest academic institution, The Open University, as well as any other university that seeks to offer part-time, flexible or adult education alongside its traditional offering.”
“Mike Berlin, associate lecturer in history and president of Birkbeck’s University and College Union branch, said none of the attempts by the institution to reinvent itself so far ‘had really worked’ and he feared they risked diluting the institution’s ethos.”
“ ‘The college’s explanation for the crisis is to do with external factors beyond its control and I think that is fair to an extent, but there has also been a lack of vision and a failure to adhere to the traditions of why people work at Birkbeck, in that it is a radical institution which focuses on working-class education,’ ” he said.
“All agree, however, that the problems at Birkbeck go beyond the college itself and will require broader solutions, including more government support and investment for adult education.”
Would not part of the broader solutions be support and investment — aimed at formalising university partnerships with community organisations of community education and research? The universities actually in, and working with, community, rather than research test subjects and educative subjects objectified as out there.
Image: Adult Education Concept on Black Chalkboard. 3d Rendering. Toned Image. Photo 79907681 / Adult Education © Tashatuvango | Dreamstime.com
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